EcoCost is our in house ecological impact evaluation system that allows us to

place a comparable accurate environmental copst on materials processes for use in our work

The mathematics is a bit daunting at first glance but rational on following it through.

 earth from space


           The EcoCost Algorithm


EcoCost= La+To+Ec+Td+b   + Re x RE



Expressed in Gaia units as a proportion of the planetary capacity 


Where      La            =              S   Land Degradation Evaluations 

                To           =              S  Toxic Output Impact Evaluations 

                Ec            =              Energy Consumption x Energy Production EcoCost 

                Td            =              Transport Distance x Transport EcoCost  

                b              =              Itinerant Impacts 

                Re            =              Recycled / Reused proportion factor 

                ReE          =              EcoCost of recycled / reused portion. 

                 Longevity                =                   Life of material       .        

                                                                Expected Building Life 



  i)             Energy Production EcoCost   =  LaE + ToE   +  CeE                


                LaE*  = S Land Degradation caused by energy production and fuel per MJ  

                ToE*  =   S Toxic Output Impact engendered in energy production per MJ 

                CeE   =     Capital EcoCost of Production Plant, amortised over life  

                that is ;                    S  Land Degradation + SToxic Output Impact 

                                                        Life of Plant (expressed in MJ Output) 


*   Both the land area degradation and toxic cost should include the gaining of the raw material, processing and transport to the generating facility, for the fuel source. 


ii              Transport EcoCost   = Td x S ( LaT  + ToT +  CeT  +  CeI) 


Where      Td   =          Transport distances for each transport type 

                LaT   =         S Land Degradation caused by fuel procurement and operation 

                ToT  =     S   Toxic Output Impact of transporting motivator per tonne km 

                CeT =      Capital EcoCost of Transporting motivator  per tonne km 

                that is ;                      SLand Degradation + SToxic Output Impact  

                                                     Life of Vehicle (expressed in tonne km) 

                CeI  =       Capital Infrastructure EcoCost, amortised over life per tonne km 

                that is;        SLand Degradation + SToxic Output Impact    

                                  Life of Infrastructure (expressed in tonne passes) 


iii)  Itinerant Impacts, b, is determined from a series of sub-algorithms for each particular case 


iv)  The Recycled / Reused Factor, Re, is a percentage of the recycled / reused portion of total consumed. 

                Re    =   1  -  % recycled / reused 


                Re    =   1  -              Quantity of  Recycled Material Used 

                                                Total Quantity Used 


v)  The EcoCost of the recycled / reused fraction (ReE)  is found as a subroutine of the EcoCost equation 

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1. Ecological Evaluation Systems

 It is nearly impossible to understand fully the breadth and scope of the detrimental effects on the planet of humanity’s consumption.  Within the existing market pricing system, there is no mechanism for determining the full environmental impacts associated with the consumption of any particular product. 

 If we are serious about reducing the disastrous environmental impact of our species it is crucial that we develop and employ accurate, quantitative methods of assessing the full environmental cost of using particular products.  It is too easy to use the product with the lowest market price and disregard the real costs involved. The understanding of the complexity and inter-relatedness of ecosystems needed to allow absolute environmental analysis is profound.

 Systems are needed that have some penalty for using products that damage ecosystems and encourage the use of environmentally non-harmful products and methods.  This will not happen within the current economic system, this system is one of the most intractable causes of environmental degradation.  We value products according to unreal anthrocentric criteria leading inexorably to over-exploitation of the ecosystem for short term human gain.  Market pricing systems have no direct link with the ecosphere around us.

It is vital that design practitioners encourage the development of absolute ecological evaluation systems as the information basis for policy and resource allocation decisions. 

‘EcoCost’ is an ecologically-based evaluation system for processes and materials.  The system assesses the reduction of biomass and biodiversity and the destruction of natural features, caused by obtaining, manufacturing, distributing and using materials and the processes behind them.

 The parameters of the EcoCost system include: pollutant output from industrial processes; land degradation caused by raw material collection; energy consumption and generation; pollution and land degradation due to transport; longevity of materials; resource scarcity, reusability and recyclability.  These are assessed according to the damage engendered in creating the material and getting it to the site in question.  The system collects data from a wide range of sources to give quantitative, consistent, repeatable scalar impact evaluations to the various parameters.  It then sythesises an overall comparative EcoCost with an ecological impact evaluation algorithm essentially amortising the cumulative impact over the expected life of the material or process.

The EcoCost system uses the notion of Gaia, a complete interrelated living system encompassing the entire globe, as a unit of measure of the capacity of the planet to support impact.  An EcoCost of one gaia is equivalent to using the entire global capacity of earth.  Hence most human activities range from 10-12 Gaia (a picoGaia) for daily activities to 10-9 Gaia (a nanoGaia) for serious major infrastructure projects.

The EcoCost system allows the current highly refined and effective methods of quantitative analysis, quantity surveying and economic cost benefit analysis to be used, but with more ecologically relevant numbers.  The system can be set up on-line to take information from local producers and suppliers to make rapid ballpark analyses of the current ecological impact of available materials.  See the Book of EcoCost.

On a day to day part of or design process we research the EcoCost of all the component parts of any proposal or activity, and try to minimise the EcoCost of each part and think holistically to reduce the overall EcoCost.  

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3. Develop an EcoCost Budget




A basic question to be considered and answered in detail in the early stages of brief development for a new proposal is; what environmental expenditure should be made on it?  We are very well organised where it comes to financial considerations but in the arena of ecological and environmental impact there is little or no consideration of the allowable ‘EcoCost’ of any proposal.


An EcoCost Budget, when properly set up, will allow proponents of any particular proposal to obtain a quantitative appreciation of how much resource expenditure the particular endeavour deserves, in terms of its social, cultural or contextual importance.  Designers should be able to budget, in an ecological sense, for the use of highly desirable but perhaps ecologically costly materials or systems in a trade off with using low EcoCost strategies in other areas to keep within an overall ecological expenditure allowance for the project.  Within the EcoCost Budget an allowance would be made for the longevity and robustness of the proposal.  The EcoCost should be spread over the useful life of the building, allowing a greater EcoCost to be justified by a much increased lifespan.  Conversely the EcoCost rises with short-lived schemes.


The nature of the client and the proposal’s significance to society as a whole, in economic, artistic and cultural terms is will effect its budget.  Who gets to determine the EcoCost Budget will be the issue of greatest importance to the concept’s long term success.  At first such budgets may need to be made subversively by concerned designers but ultimately it must be a community governance role.


So … Rule of Thumb …  Even if it has to done in isolation from current authority, develop and instigate the concept of an Ecological Resource Expenditure Budget for all projects based on their perceived worth to the community.  Treat it in the same way as an economic budgeting.